Angel of the Month
Ken Fredman is a web developer and marketing manager for a large bank in Manhattan. With over 15 years in the interactive and graphic design fields, Ken donates numerous hours per month assisting non-profit organizations reach the masses through their websites.
Q. Please tell us a little about yourself. Please also talk about your family and your career.
A. I'm a web developer and marketing professional living in northern, NJ. I am blessed to have a beautiful, smart and successful wife, a first grade daughter with a fifth grade personality and a precocious, athletic and loving four-year-old son. During the day I work on websites and electronic marketing for a large bank (so right now, everyone should feel sorry for me!) and in the evenings and weekends I help out with website projects for non-profits and sites for friends (or friends-of-friends).
Q. As a website designer, you have so generously donated your talent to many non-profit organizations and causes. Why do you think it is important to donate your services?
A. I have been fortunate to have good work opportunities to allow me to develop this knowledge and skill. I believe that it's important to give back when you are fortunate enough to have the ability and the time. It makes the word a little bit of a better place, and, let's face it, it makes you feel good too.
Q. You created the website for The Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, a wonderful non-profit whose mission is to raise funds to find a cure for a very deadly sub-type of breast cancer. The forums and chat rooms have turned into an invaluable place for women with triple negative breast disease to share crucial medical information and to offer support to each other. How does it make you feel to know your work is so needed and is used by so many?
A. It's very gratifying, and I still can't get over how heavily used the site is and how valuable this resource has become to help these women and families connect and support each other. Truthfully, the forum was kind of a last minute add-on to the site, a "nice to have" that we weren't sure would ever be used. It turned out that we were wrong - the usage growth was so extreme that I had to move the server over to a more robust platform and spent a number of evenings furiously re-coding files and fielding tech support issues from the community. In the end, seeing how the forum helps women to find answers, find support and sometimes just vent their frustrations with an impossible condition to a compassionate and sympathetic audience makes me proud of the time I was able to contribute.
Q. What social ills and global issues concern you today?
A. I'm concerned with our "throw away" consumption society that puts pressure on all of us to constantly buy more, buy bigger and needlessly waste our planet's resources. As a parent, I want my kids to be able to appreciate wildlife and have a sustainable and livable environment for their future.
I think one of the very few positive outcomes of our current economic crisis is that it'll help people see that maybe the best things (family, community, time spent with good friends, a good book from the library, visits to nature/park, etc.) really are free.
Q. What other non-profit organizations do you work with or support?
A. In addition to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation I also volunteer my time as webmaster for the Business Marketing Association of New York City (www.bmanyc.org) which is a not-for-profit business networking group and has programs to help college students in marketing. And I built a site for the Salvation Army, Bushwick Worship and Community Center (www.salvationarmybwcc.org) so they can have their own site and voice on the web.
I've also provided web development support for the Foundation for Jewish Camp (www.jewishcamp.org) which seeks to use summer camps to help build bonds among young people and their community; Natan (www.natan.org), which works with young philanthropists to help guide and support their funding efforts; and the Nunnbetter Dance Theatre (www.nunnbetter.com) which nurtures young ballet dancers and supports community concerts and festivals.
Q. You have young children. What do you do to teach them about the importance of service?
As a parent, I certainly see how important the concepts of giving and social work are to teach my kids and how basic they are in terms of fairness. Even my four year old 'gets' it. We've taken them with us to donate clothes to Goodwill, put coins in the Tzedaka (charity) box at synagogue and pack away dry food and cans for holiday food drives.
Q. What motivated you to give back to society? Did you come from a family who valued service or was there some other catalyst?
A. I was raised in a fairly religious Jewish household and the dual concepts of charity (or Tzedaka) and social works (called Tikkun Olum in Hebrew) were taught and interwoven into my education and religious life since I was a child. I too helped my Mom collect cans for food drives, entertained at local old age homes, and watched as my folks opened their home numerous times to those needing a holiday meal or a place to stay while in town.
Q. What advice do you have for volunteers who are just starting to serve?
A. Most of the giving and support I have done has been related to causes that are close to my community and heart. Through the Angelrock project I have had the opportunity to meet, visit and help a tiny bit with the folks at the Salvation Army in Bushwick. Getting out of my own community and seeing other areas and meeting other people that I can support has been a great experience. So, I'd recommend that volunteers start in their own communities but seek out opportunities to help those in broader and different context.
Q. You have also donated your time to Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service. Tell me what you think today's at-risk youth need to succeed?
A. In today's economic environment, everyone feels under stress to succeed or even maintain their status quo. So, an at-risk youth is in dire straights more now than ever. I've been lucky to have a middle-class, suburban type up-bringing and a good education. I guess at-risk youth need quality education and some kind of support to help deal with the difficult roadblocks that may be facing them in their communities.
Q. Who is your mentor?
A. I don't think there's any one single person for me, instead, over the years I've tried to learn from all my co-workers and supervisors at work finding nuggets of insight and learning from everyone.
Q. What is your favorite book?
A. As a web developer and technology guy, it'll probably come as no surprise that I'm a science fiction/fantasy geek. I loved the Riverworld and World of Tiers series by Phillip Jose Farmer and the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons. These books create mind-boggling worlds while presenting engaging characters and quick paced plot action.
Q. What is your favorite quote?
A. I always liked the Theodor Herzl quote, "If you will it, it is no dream." Another Theodore, Theodore Roosevelt had a similar quote which I like, "Believe you can and you're halfway there."
Q. What is your favorite motto?
A. At work we do marketing and some public relations, so I've caught myself saying during one or another "fire drill" or "crisis": "It's PR, not the ER!" I try to put a little perspective on issues that crop up and not take myself too seriously.
Q. Do you have a lasting thought that we did not ask?
A. I just wanted to say that I am so proud to have helped in my small way to launch the Angelrock project web site and support Malaak's efforts and causes. It's so gratifying to work on a project that serves other people and helps society - and I am just very happy with the way the site came out from a form/functional perspective.
Past Angel of the Month
Read about Jody Fariello, Co-Founder of Rally 'Round the Gold Ribon.
To view all past Angels of the Month, please click here.
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